It’s easy to succumb to stress as we adjust to the new normal of daily routines under the cloud of COVID-19. “Social distancing” can seem like a prison sentence, especially with a house full of cooped-up kids who suddenly aren’t allowed in Grandma’s room. We might experience emotional whiplash between concern for the health of loved ones and the terror of watching our retirement fund go up in smoke. Those recent trips to the grocery store still haven't yielded hand sanitizer or toilet paper, and all at once we’re robbed of the escape that sports or nights out on the town once provided.

At the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, perhaps the best self-care we can manage involves a dramatic change of perspective. Instead of looking at all the things we can’t do (and yes, that list is long), what if we approached the current lockdowns and restrictions as an unexpected opportunity?

After all, those of us who aren’t sick find ourselves with an unanticipated abundance of two priceless commodities: time and focus. The very real dangers of this pandemic offer a bracing sense of perspective and the time with which to reprioritize things as a result. What if we came out of all this in the coming months stronger for having enacted a plan?

Take a moment to list small things you could accomplish in the coming weeks as a result of being forced to work from home or stay away from large gatherings. Find a way to re-glue that little rubber thing on the shower door. Read that magazine or book you’ve been using as a coaster on your night stand. Cook a homemade candle light dinner with cheesy 80’s music in the background. Take the clothes off that treadmill or weight bench and recall why you got them in the first place.

Rediscover the small joys we forget in the vortex of daily life. Dust off a board game and see what all the hubbub was about 40 years ago. Take a long shower or bath before getting to bed for a good sleep. Set a reminder to take a picture of one day’s sunrise and sunset out your favorite window; print them and post them on the bathroom mirror.

Remember that social distancing doesn’t mean social disconnect. Reach out to a neighbor or someone at risk during this time and find one small way to help. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. While you’re at it, call your mother. Call someone else’s mother. Heck, call my mother; say you’re me.

Finally, keep a journal, especially if you’ve never kept one before. This pandemic will be one of the defining moments of this generation whether we like it or not. Give your descendants the gift of your first-hand experience, and show them how happiness is an option even in the darkest of times.

In the meantime, stay safe and stay away.

You can read more at RobertFWalsh.com, contact him at RobertFWalshMail@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @RobertFWalsh.